Tel Aviv may be known as Israel’s most gay-ready place to meet and mingle, but that hasn’t stopped Jerusalem from carving out a diverse, vibrant scene of its own. The local Hebrew University attracts plenty of good-looking younger gays, and while the options may not be quite as libidinous as Tel Aviv, there’s still lots of hidden gems in the world’s most sacred city.Enjoy Jerusalem’s nature side with a visit to Maayan ein-Lavan, a small hot spring located near the Biblical Zoo. We met one local who said he likes to “take guys for a nighttime date…to get to know them better.” He’s got the right idea as far as we’re concerned. Who wouldn’t say yes to a hot, relaxing soak under the stars?
Just a few miles west of the city is Sataf, another group of natural springs located along the Sorek riverbed. Looking out over West Jerusalem and St John in the Desert’s monastery, guys come here to hang out in the water (clothing optional, of course), and enjoy the “views.”
Meanwhile, back in the city, an enchanting cafe known as Tmol Shilshom is a great way to start off (or wind down) your evening. To reach it, you’ve got to follow a narrow alley off of main Yafo St, turn a few corners, and ascend some stone steps. If that sounds like too much work, trust us—once you find yourself tucked in a corner, surrounded by rickety bookshelves and antique reading lamps, the trek will seem totally worth it.
Tmol Shilshom offers a full food menu (homemade shakshuka, ricotta ravioli, za’atar-dusted Fatush salad), but on the night we visited, a simple hot toddy (served with a very generous splash of Captain Morgan’s rum) and a slice of chocolate cake did the trick.Another popular daytime spot is Kadosh Cafe, on Shlomtsiyon HaMalka St, near the Jerusalem Municipality complex, has been around for over 40 years but recently underwent a major renovation. The newly-modernized space offers freshly-baked pastries, sandwiches, tea and coffee, and free WiFi. The vibe here can get pretty Brooklyn-y, so expect a lot of busybody hipsters typing away on MacBooks and sipping espresso.
While Jerusalem’s nightlife options aren’t exactly extensive (again, for trashy all-night hornfests, Tel Aviv is your best bet), there are two main venues where you’re likely to meet other folks. First up is Mikveh Bar, which features a three-sided bar in the front and a sizable dance area in the back. Friday nights are particularly fun, with DJ spinning the usual gay club numbers and two-for-one drinks until 11:30pm.
Meanwhile, Videopub is a smaller, hipper hangout, where the walls are plastered with 80s Israeli pop records and movie posters, and the back room is so tiny it practically requires everyone to grind with each other. Some might call that too close for comfort. Not us, though.